Social Media is a target for identity theft

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Social media has become such a popular way to communicate.  From to Twitter, these networking sites are booming.  While it is a great way to get in touch with old friends, and make new ones, privacy online has almost become non-existent.  "You're posting your personal information for the world to see," says Ernest Ward, a detective with the Jonesboro Police Department.  Social networking sites are easy targets for people looking to steal your identity.

Ward says "the more information that they can find the quicker you can become the victim."  The Federal Trade Commission fears the rules to protect privacy have not kept up with the technology.  Just having your name, date of birth, and address available would be all a person needs.  "All these can be run through date bases that are available online to get your personal information. It is very easy, very, very easy."

There is no way to fully protect yourself from identity fraud, but there are some steps to take to make you less of a target. "When I find someone that has 500 or so plus friends most people can't say yes I know all of these 800 people or these 1,000 people.  But are these all people you would really trust with all of your information," says Ward.  So make sure you know who you are excepting on your friends list.  You can also set your privacy settings so that your information is limited to the people that are not on your friends list.  Another good tip might be to change your password every so offer, and make sure it is not something obvious.  Ward says do not ever think it cannot happen to you, "you may never be the victim of financial identity fraud. Do you want to gamble with that?  Do you want to give someone your information that they can use?  Do you want to put it out there for the world to see?"  The Federal Trade Commission and Congress are weighing steps to stop online monitoring and identity theft.

These social networks also can impact if an employer hires you or not.  Ward says many times employers look at what individuals are posting on their page, the kinds of pictures on the profile, and lifestyle.  Just be aware, whatever you are doing online, is on stage for everyone to see.